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Why is a colonoscopy important?

“Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in the United States,” says Ekinadese Aburime, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Piedmont.  “A colonoscopy is the best screening test available for colorectal cancer, and many of these cancers can be prevented through regular screenings.”

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows for examination of the inside the colon, helping doctors to identify precancerous polyps, which are abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Any polyps or abnormal tissues found during a colonoscopy can be removed and sent to a laboratory for testing.

“Early stages of colorectal cancer usually present no symptoms,” Dr. Aburime says. “This is why screening is crucial because when found early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable.”

Both men and women should have a colonoscopy starting at age 45. However, people at increased risk may start earlier. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Age

  • History of inflammatory bowel disease

  • Obesity

  • Personal or family history of colorectal polyps

  • Racial and ethnic background

  • Smoking

“African-American men and women are considered high risk for this type of cancer, with a 20 percent higher rate of developing colon cancer and a 45 percent higher mortality rate,” Dr. Aburime says.

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